4 Warning Signs of Damaged Foundations

4 Signs a Home Foundation is DamagedBefore buying a home, it's important to know the condition of all parts of the home. Otherwise, home buyers who pass on a home inspection could find that a property that looks great from the outside is full of structural problems that cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix. Since the foundation is one of the most important parts of the home, it's critical that home owners learn to recognize signs of foundation damage and steer clear of homes with faulty foundations. Here are 4 signs your Pagosa Springs home may have a damaged foundation.

Foundation Cracks

When a foundation is visibly cracked or crumbling from the exterior, it's a major red flag that more problems lurk beneath the surface. Walk around the outside of the home looking for gaps, cracks, crumbling concrete, and other signs of disrepair. Check the basement as well. If there's visible damage to the foundation either inside or outside, it's best to keep searching for a home that's in better condition.

Drainage Problems or Water Damage

Drainage problems and water damage often indicate a leaky foundation. Check the soil near the home's foundation. If the soil is wet but it hasn't rained recently, there could be a foundation problem. Additionally, if the soil is dry but but it has rained recently, there could be leaks.

Cracked walls or warped ceilings

If the foundation is damaged, the walls and ceilings will show it. Gaps may start to appear between the walls and ceiling, or walls can start to crack. Check corners, joint and moldings, too. If they are no longer flush or bear signs of warping or cracks, there could be a foundation problem.

If the home is concrete or brick, there will be noticeable cracks or fissures in the walls that are very easy to spot. These are more red flags a home's foundation could need repair.

Sloping floors and stairs

When the home's foundation is not structurally sound, it causes other problems in the home, such as:

  • Sloping stairs
  • Sloping floors
  • Windows that aren't square
  • Doors that are misaligned or don't stay shut

Home buyers can check that a floor is level by using a level or with a tennis ball. If a tennis ball placed on the floor starts to roll, the floor isn't level. The tennis ball should not move when placed on a level floor. They can check windows and doors by opening and closing them. Windows and doors that don't seal tightly leak energy year round, driving up utility costs and decreasing home comfort.

A real estate agent may try to say the damage was caused by the home settling, especially if the home is older. However, only a structural engineer can evaluate the home's condition and attribute the cause to settling or a faulty foundation. Foundation repairs are one type of repair that should not be a DIY project for the homeowner

Settling is the home's natural tendency to sink into the soil. It's something contractors should take into account when building a new home. While settling is to be expected—thus, not a deal breaker—foundation problems should be avoided.

A damaged foundation costs roughly $1,857 to $6,338 to repair, with severe problems costing as much as $11,000. Given the high cost, some home buyers may opt to push off fixing the foundation. If you see these signs in any home you're considering, the best option is to steer clear of that home. Foundation damage will worsen and cause other problems if ignored, leaving you with more home headaches and a larger repair bill.

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